Breast cancer screenings update: Meditation reduces pain and anxiety among patients

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A new study reflects the soothing effect of meditation among patients who undergo breast cancer biopsies.

Breast cancer has the second-highest rate for cause of death among women. Those over the age of 50 are recommended to undergo cancer screenings every two years.

Breast cancer biopsies can cause pain and anxiety among patients. As more women suffer further painful screenings in order to prevent or treat cancer, a group of researchers studied on what could effectively reduce the factors that could hinder an effective screening: meditation.

“Patients who experience pain and anxiety may move during the procedure, which can reduce the effectiveness of biopsy, or they may not adhere to follow-up screening and testing,” said Mary Scott Soo, the study’s lead author. 

Meditation has been proven to have reduced post-traumatic stress and pain as well as give patients a better sense of self. To find out how meditation could help patients who are undergoing breast cancer biopsies, the researchers investigated 121 women patients at Duke University.

For the study, the participants were randomly divided into three sessions: the first group received a recorded meditation on loving/kindness on oneself and others as well as releasing negative emotions; the second group listened to soft instrumental music and nature sounds; and the third group received standard support and regular conversation with the radiologist.

After filling up questionnaires measuring anxiety, pain and fatigue before and after the breast biopsies, researchers found out that those in the meditation group had far lower rates on anxiety and fatigue post-biopsy than those who received standard support from the radiologist.

Those who listened to music have experienced slight reductions on pain and anxiety as well.

In developing an effective screening program, Soo noted, “it’s important that we address these issues to provide a better experience and more compassionate care for our patients.”

The study was recently published in the “Journal of the American College of Radiology.”